Philippine Standard Time
Monday, June 10, 2019, 2:18:54AM

In Defense of the Right to Life: International Law and Death Penalty in the Philippines

A study by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and Dr. Christopher Ward, SC, Australian Bar, Adjunct Professor, Australian National University


Zimbabwe Considers Abolishing Death Penalty
Human Rights Watch |, February 15, 2024
Death penalty incompatible with right to life
OHCHR |, January 31, 2024
Debunking narratives for a return of the death penalty
WCADP |, November 13, 2023
Jury in Pittsburgh synagogue trial to begin deliberating death penalty
The New York Times |, July 31, 2023
Singapore executes a woman for first time in almost two decades
The Guardian |, July 28, 2023
Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk after Ghana’s Parliament votes to abolish death penalty
UN OHCHR |, July 26, 2023
Ghana votes to remove death penalty, calling it sign of ‘inhumane’ society
The Washington Post |, July 26, 2023
Parents in South Korea who kill newborns now face death penalty after law passed
The Straits Times |, July 19, 2023
Capitol Hill Democrats introduce bill to end federal death penalty
Catholic News Agency |, July 19, 2023
North Koreans risk death penalty for using South Korean language
Scottish Legal News |, June 30, 2023
Arizona Man Is Freed After 28 Years on Death Row
New York Times |, June 16, 2023
Two Australians facing death penalty in Vietnam granted clemency
Al Jazeera |, June 06, 2023
Japanese Supreme Court upholds mans death sentence for Manila murders
The Japan Times |, June 05, 2023
Zimbabwe’s new bill that imposes death penalty for ‘unpatriotic acts’
Africa Feeds |, June 01, 2023
Iran hangs three on drug charges amid criticism
Al Jazeera |, May 21, 2023
Singapore: OHCHR calls on authorities to halt imminent trafficking execution
United Nation News |, April 25, 2023
Washington state eliminates death penalty from law
CNN |, April 21, 2023
HC: Death penalty should be abolished in the 21st century
UN OHCHR |, April 03, 2023
HC: Death penalty should be abolished in the 21st century
UN OHCHR |, April 03, 2023
Malaysia ends mandatory death penalty for serious crimes
BBC News |, April 03, 2023
HC: Death penalty should be abolished in the 21st century
UN OHCHR |, April 03, 2023
HC: Death penalty should be abolished in the 21st century
UN OHCHR |, April 03, 2023
Surge in executions of drug offenders in 2022, more on death row
Al Jazeera |, March 16, 2023
Pope condemns Irans use of death penalty against protesters
Reuters |, January 09, 2023
Pope Francis’ prayer intention for September: ‘Abolition of the death penalty’
CBCP News |, September 01, 2022
Singapore executes two drug traffickers despite pleas for clemency
CNN |, July 07, 2022
Malaysia to abolish mandatory death penalty
Al Jazeera |, June 10, 2022
Missionary priest praises Central African Republic for abolishing death penalty
Crux |, June 02, 2022
Saudi Arabia: Release Abdullah al-Howaiti, revoke death sentence
Un News |, May 31, 2022
Rights office welcomes Zambia’s pledge to abolish the death penalty
UN News |, May 22, 2022
Kazakhstan Finalizes Commitment to Abolishing Death Penalty, Submits Ratification of Protocol to UN
The Astana Times |, March 28, 2022
Papua New Guinea abolishes death penalty
JURIST |, January 24, 2022
‘Just Mercy’ author urges Utah Legislature to abolish death penalty
Deseret News |, January 20, 2022
Macron calls for worldwide end to death penalty on 40th anniversary of French abolition
France 24 |, September 10, 2021
Virginia becomes first state in US south to abolish death penalty
ALJAZEERA |, March 24, 2021
Virginia Becomes First Southern State to Abolish the Death Penalty
The New York Times |, March 24, 2021
Death penalty debate reemerges in Nevada after past stalls
Fox 5 (Las Vegas) |, March 24, 2021
Abolish the federal death penalty
Chicago Sun-times |, March 01, 2021
Family members of murder victims speak out against the death penalty
KPVI News 6 |, March 01, 2021
Bill To Repeal Death Penalty Filed In Wyoming Legislature
Kgab |, March 01, 2021
State Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty
Newsradio 1140 WRVA |, February 04, 2021
Trump administration carries out 13th, final federal execution
Aljazeera |, January 16, 2021
A federal judge has granted a stay of execution for the only woman on federal death row pending a competency hearing
CNN |, January 12, 2021
Asian Nations Reject UN Vote Against Death Penalty
Human Rights Watch |, November 24, 2020
Holy See: ‘Death penalty the most shocking thing in the world
Vatican News |, October 10, 2020
Tunisia president calls for return of death penalty following brutal killing
The Guardian |, October 01, 2020
Kazakhstan takes important step towards abolishing death penalty
Amnesty Internatonal |, September 24, 2020
US Bishops stress opposition to death penalty
Independent Catholic News |, September 23, 2020
‘Travesty of justice’: Reaction to execution of Iranian wrestler
Aljazeera |, September 14, 2020
Unpacking public opinion on the death penalty
Asia Pacific Forum |, July 28, 2020
The Florida Supreme Court’s U-turn on the death penalty
Tampa Bay Times |, May 28, 2020
Man sentenced to death in Singapore via Zoom
BBC News |, May 20, 2020
Saudi Arabia ends death penalty for crimes committed by minors
The Guardian |, April 27, 2020
Catholic leaders praise abolition of death penalty in Colorado
CRUX |, March 25, 2020
Colorado Abolishes Death Penalty and Commutes Sentences of Death Row Inmates
The New York Times |, March 23, 2020
UK urged to act over men facing death in Egypt for alleged childhood crimes
The Guardian |, March 08, 2020
Berlin International Film Festival: Iranian film about executions wins top prize
BBC |, February 29, 2020
Trump condemned after claiming very powerful death penalty would reduce drug dealing
The Independent |, February 11, 2020
Outsourcing injustice: Guantanamo on the Euphrates
Al Jazeera News |, February 04, 2020
British Isis prisoners may end up in Iraq, where death sentences are handed down without due process
Independent |, February 02, 2020
Saudi Arabia executed record number of prisoners in 2019: Report
ABC News |, January 14, 2020
Death Sentence Overturned for Pervez Musharraf, Ex-Leader of Pakistan
The New York Times |, January 13, 2020
Japan executes foreigner for first time in a decade
Independent |, December 26, 2019
The Khashoggi verdict is exactly what impunity looks like. It must be denounced.
Agnes Callamard, Opinions, Washington Post |, December 24, 2019
5 foreigners in drug case could face death in Indonesia |, December 18, 2019
Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan ex-leader sentenced to death for treason
BBC News |, December 17, 2019
Botswana urged to abolish death penalty after latest execution
The Guardian |, December 09, 2019
I Oversaw Executions. We Cannot Resume the Federal Death Penalty
New York Times |, December 04, 2019
Americans Now Support Life in Prison Over Death Penalty
Gallup News |, November 25, 2019
UN criticizes Irans use of death penalty against minors
DW |, October 24, 2019
The Death Penalty for Drugs: What Public Opinion Surveys in Asia Teach Us
Giada Girelli, Filter Mag |, October 17, 2019
Malaysia: Unfair trials, secretive hangings and petty drug convictions reveal ‘cruel injustice’ of the death penalty
Amnesty International |, October 10, 2019
Against the death penalty: barrister Julian McMahon
ABC Radio |, July 25, 2019
Malaysia’s repeal of death penalty opens deep wounds, including that of Mongolian model murder
The Independent|, July 09, 2019
Why is Sri Lanka reinstating death penalty?
DW|, July 07, 2019
Latter-day Saint Church defends involvement in death penalty case
Fox13 Salt Lake City|, July 06, 2019
Debate on death penalty not very vigorous 1 year after Aum executions
Japan Today|, July 06, 2019
Prosecutor won’t seek death penalty in death of grandmother
News 4 Tucson|, July 06, 2019
SC issues Interim Order against death penalty
Daily FT|, July 06, 2019
Death penalty debate remains muted in Japan 1 year after AUM executions
Kyodo News|, July 05, 2019
Source: Govt will not table Bill to abolish death penalty this Parliament meeting
The Star|, July 05, 2019
The murder was caught on surveillance video. The accused now faces death if convicted
Miami Herald|, July 05, 2019
Sri Lanka- Supreme Court issues interim order against death penalty
MenaFN|, July 05, 2019
Jury to consider death penalty in Chinese scholar killing
Federal News Network|, July 05, 2019
Kentucky judge declares death penalty protocol unconstitutional
Crux Now|, July 04, 2019
As Malaysia eyes death penalty repeal, Al Jazeera documentary explores dilemma of capital punishment
Malay Mail|, July 04, 2019
Jose Martinez, The Hit Man Who Confessed To Killing Three Dozen People, Avoids The Death Penalty
BuzzFeed News|, July 03, 2019
Merced County DA is seeking the death penalty. And it could get costly, experts say
The Merced Sunstar|, July 03, 2019
Activists Hold Annual Fast Outside Supreme Court to Protest Death Penalty
Spektrum News|, July 02, 2019
Kentucky judge declares states death penalty protocol unconstitutional
The Courier Journal|, July 02, 2019
Lawmakers vote to substantially limit Oregon’s death penalty
Oregon Live|, June 29, 2019
Abolish the Death Penalty?
New York Times|, June 22, 2019
The Intercept|, June 18, 2019
In Los Angeles, only people of color are sentenced to death
The Guardian|, June 18, 2019
Poll finds Californians support the death penalty — and Newsom’s moratorium on executions
The LA Times|, June 17, 2019
Debunking the Court’s Latest Death-Penalty Obsession
The Atlantic|, June 17, 2019
Using Saudi death penalty vs. children is barbaric
CNN|, June 17, 2019
Reader reluctantly accepts governor’s death penalty moratorium
The LA Times|, June 14, 2019
Saudi Teenager Faces Death Sentence for Acts When He Was 10
New York Times|, June 09, 2019
GOP Lawmakers Are Quietly Turning Against the Death Penalty
The Atlantic|, June 07, 2019
Death knell: taking a stand to abolish capital punishment
Monash University |, February 26, 2019
Germany abolishes death penalty in public vote
Independent |, November 21, 2018
Pope Francis: ‘death penalty inadmissable’
Vatican News |, August 02, 2018
One Test Could Exonerate Him. Why Wont California Do It?
The New York Times|, May 17, 2018

World News

Jury to consider death penalty in Chinese scholar killing

July 05, 2019, Federal News Network

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal jury that convicted a former University of Illinois doctoral student of kidnapping, torturing and killing a young scholar from China now must decide if Brendt Christensen should be put to death.

While the state of Illinois, where she was killed, does not have the death penalty, the case was brought under federal law, which does allow capital punishment.

The jury returned a guilty verdict on June 24 after deliberating for less than 90 minutes, in part, because the 30-year-old Christensen’s own lawyers told jurors from the outset that he did kill 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, saying their sole objective was to persuade jurors to spare his life.

The penalty phase, which is set to start Monday, is sure to be more contentious and more emotionally grueling. Here’s a look out how it will work and how it could play out:


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A: The penalty phase is a kind of mini-trial with openings, exhibits, testimony and closings. It’s expected to last at least as long as the verdict phase, around a week and a half. Deliberations over whether Christensen should live or die are almost certain to last longer. If just one juror holds out against the death penalty, he’d be sentenced to life without parole.

The form jurors must fill out at the end of deliberation has multiple sections. The first simply asks if Christensen qualifies for the death penalty because he’s over 18 and intended to kill Zhang.

Later sections are the hard parts.

A section on “aggravating factors” asks jurors, among other things, if Christensen killed Zhang “in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner” and whether he’s shown no remorse. A section on “mitigation factors” asks jurors if aspects of Christensen’s “background, record or character…. mitigate against imposition of a death sentence.”


A: The rules of evidence are looser in the penalty phase. Hearsay, opinion and emotion aren’t automatically prohibited. Zhang’s parents, for instance, are expected to testify about how their daughter’s death has devastated their own lives . They could talk about how she dreamed of becoming a crop-sciences professor.

Both parents have said they want death for Christensen. But jurors aren’t supposed to vote for a death sentence out of sympathy for or to give comfort to the family.


A: They must assess whether aggravating factors presented by prosecutors in how Christensen killed Zhang and the impact her death has had on others “sufficiently outweigh the mitigating factors,” the penalty-phase form says. If jurors decide the aggravating factors are greater, they should vote for execution. If they decide enough mitigating factors tip the scale the other way, they should opt for the life sentence.


A: Jurors already heard during the verdict phase how Christensen carried Zhang into his apartment in a 6-foot duffle bag, raped, stabbed and choked her, then beat her to death with a bat and decapitated her.

Prosecutors will emphasize Christensen’s meticulous pre-planning and how he seemed proud of what he’d done. They could mention Christensen’s boast he killed 12 others before — not to suggest the claim is true but to show he has that aspiration and would continue to pose a threat, even to fellow inmates.

Prosecutors are likely to emphasize the Christensen’s high intelligence, as shown by his master’s degree in physics, arguing he had faculties to know what he did was wrong.


A: The defense has the bigger challenge given the grisly details jurors know from the verdict phase.

Defense lawyers are expected to tell jurors Christensen knew his homicidal fantasies months before he killed Zhang weren’t right and sought help from U of I mental health counselors. They have alleged the school didn’t do enough to help.

They are also likely to broach Christensen’s childhood and his heavy alcohol use leading up to Zhang’s slaying. They could call on friends or relatives to speak of any acts of kindness or charity by Christensen in his past.


A: Those who categorically oppose capital punishment or believe it should be imposed on someone convicted of killing without exception can’t serve as jurors in federal death-penalty trials and were weeded out in jury selection. While jurors are supposed to strictly adhere to criteria laid out on the penalty phase form, many are likely to be hesitant about casting votes that could result in someone being put to death.

Getting 12 jurors to agree on imposing the ultimate punishment can be difficult. The life of Jodi Arias, convicted in an Arizona court for the 2008 slaying of Travis Alexander, was spared after one juror refused to vote for the death penalty after five days of deliberations.


A: He could. But how is a point of disagreement. The defense wants Christensen to be able to make a statement, perhaps to apologize to Zhang’s family. Prosecutors said he should only be able to speak from the witness stand and that prosecutors should be able to cross-examine him.

He may also want to reveal what he did with Zhang’s remains, which have never been found. That could be risky. He is heard on secret FBI recordings telling his girlfriend Zhang’s remains were “gone forever.” Far from crediting him for revealing how he disposed of the body, jurors could end up being more repelled.

The defense asked a judge to bar anyone from testifying that Christensen refused to help find Zhang’s remains, saying their client offered after his arrest to plead guilty and divulge where her remains were in exchange for a life sentence.


A: Just because someone is sentenced to death in the federal system, doesn’t necessarily mean the person will die — at least not anytime soon. Appeals can delay executions by decades.

Since the reinstatement of the federal death penalty in 1988, 78 people were sentenced to death — but only three have actually been put to death, according to the Death Penalty Information Center data to 2018.

Federal executions are by lethal injection.

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